I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween, yesterday! The kids actually ended up attending four events this week: a church carnival, our public library Halloween party, a citywide Trunk or Treat event downtown, and then Halloween. I think my youngest had four costumes, total. 😂 We were under a winter weather advisory for Sunday, but it ended up being a fairly mild evening after all. I’ll share a few photos of the fun we’ve had this past week:
If this is your first visit to my blog, welcome! Today is Monday, and I regularly participate in a weekly #IMWAYR meme. Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!
This week I’m sharing three more novels from my #MustReadin2021 list and I’m diving into a new 35+ stack of picture books published in the last year. Maybe you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading list. I look forward to checking out the other blogs linking up, this week!
The Way to Stay in Destiny
January 6, 2015
At some point I bought this book after I enjoyed Augusta Scattergood’s Making Friends with Billy Wong. I just love the shiny cover (which has a piano with a raised image of the boy with his baseball mitt). So I added it to my #MustReadin2021 list to make sure I would prioritize it this year.
Theo’s had it pretty rough. He lost both his mom and dad in a car wreck at a young age and was raised on his grandparents’ farm until his Uncle Raymond became his guardian. Unfortunately, he’s never met his uncle before now and he knows nothing about him. To make matters worse, he later discovers his parents and his Uncle Raymond had an estranged relationship over the Vietnam War. But now they’ve moved into a rooming house in Destiny, Florida where Theo is thrilled to find a nice, big piano where he can pretty much play anything he hears, by ear. He also makes good friends with Anabel Johnson, the Mayor’s daughter, who enjoys baseball as much as he does. Things seem to be looking up until Uncle Raymond threatens to uproot them, again, and find a better job elsewhere. In less than 200 pages, this little book shares feelings of abandonment, a love of music, loneliness, PTSD, and a beautiful development of a childhood friendship.
September 10, 2013
St. Martin’s Griffin
My oldest (18) enjoyed this book a few years back and I’ve been meaning to pick it up for a while, so I added it to my #MustReadin2021 list. I first felt connected to Rainbow Rowell back when she was a writer for the Omaha World Herald, right here in little ol’ Nebraska. She wasn’t a columnist for too long before she announced that she would be retiring from the OWH to become an author. And she never looked back…
In Fangirl, twins Cath and Wren worshipped the Simon Snow fantasy book series throughout their childhoods while tag-team writing fan fiction to it. Once they are old enough to head off to college, Wren tells Cath that she thinks it would be good for them to have different roommates. Cath is utterly shocked and experiences a level of loneliness she never anticipated while she navigates the uncharted waters of finding her people. She’s enjoying a writing course, but eventually runs into trouble when she authors some fan fiction for a college assignment (and is told she is stealing another author’s characters and ideas). Meanwhile, she witnesses her father’s mental breakdown and her sister’s hospitalization due to “the college experience.” When one boy destroys her trust, she finally takes a look at another boy in her life that she’s never quite considered, before. But does a nerdy fan fiction author have the time, energy, or even interest to consider romance?
This book was all-round enjoyable experience and made me want to hunt down Rowell’s Simon Snow series. I definitely appreciated this more than her Eleanor & Park. There was so much wit and clever discourse that I giggled my way through much of it. And it was fun to see my state of Nebraska for the setting and hearing the regional jokes (for example, some believe Scottsbluff, which is very close to me, is basically part of Wyoming. 😂). There’s also representation for learning disabled, which was beautifully portrayed – especially an example of how students work hard to hide such disabilities. I’m glad I finally crossed this one off my list and I’m looking forward to more of Rainbow Rowell’s writing.
How the King of Elfhame
Learned to Hate Stories
(The Folk of the Air #3.5)
November 24, 2020
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
I didn’t realize just how short this book was (only 177 pages!!) until I started reading it on Saturday. It explores more about Cardan when he was a faerie child and revisits scenes from his young adult life that we witnessed in previous books – but with a better understanding of what was going on in his mind and heart at the time. When stories are told, they morph. Sometimes morals aren’t necessarily what we think they are. And sometimes we can use someone’s story against them. I really, really, really wish I’d had time to go back and re-read this series from the start before starting this novella. But it did bring back many feelings from the previous books. I’ll have to return to this one over Christmas break and take more time to enjoy the artwork found sprinkled through these pages!
Ruby’s Reunion Day Dinner
Jestenia Southerland, illustrator
May 18, 2021
Ruby is trying to find a way to fit in during the Reunion Day dinner preparations. Everyone has a special dish to create, except for her. And they all think she’s too little to help, this year. But they’re in for a surprise! This is adorable and the artwork truly captured Ruby’s longing to help. The artist used Photoshop to create the digital images for this book.
Like a Dandelion
Huy Voun Lee
This beautiful #ownvoices picture book centers around the immigrant experience. It was inspired by Lee’s own immigration to the United States (and she even included a photo of herself and her siblings when they were young). There’s the comparison of being blown away and replanted, just like a dandelion seed. It’s not always so easy to make the transition, but there’s so many wonderful things just waiting on the other side. The artist used Procreate and Photoshop to create the digital illustrations for this book.
The Nice Dream Truck
Brigette Barrager, illustrator
March 23, 2021
I was happy to find another perfect bedtime picture book where we see there’s an endless assortment of flavors to try as a child drifts off to sleep. With a diverse cast of characters, we see that in a whimsical dreamland we might fly or swim or do any assortment of exciting things. This is definitely a title to place on the nightstand! The artist used Adobe Photoshop to create the digital images in this book.
When Lola Visits
Aaron Asis, illustrator
May 18, 2021
Katherine Tegen Books
What a gorgeous picture book celebrating love and family and Filipino culture. The heartwarming descriptions of the smells, tastes, and feelings the young child gets during the summer, from beginning to end. Much of her summer revolves around her grandmother’s (Lola’s) annual visit, so most page spreads focuses on the loving relationship they share. This one is truly a story to experience – happy to recommend!! The artist used gouache and digital to create the illustrations for this book.
What Would You Do in a Book About You?
Joey Chou, illustrator
April 6, 2021
This action-packed, colorful picture book encourages children to consider what they might do if they were cast in a book. Spoiler Alert: Anything! You could truly write just about any book about yourself. Of course, the point is – this is exactly why we read. We pick up books to experience an assortment of activities and imagine what it’s like to be there, ourselves. This book is a fun way to celebrate reading! The artist used Photoshop to create the illustrations for this book.
Prepare for a giggle-fest when you read this book to youngsters! Just imagine what aliens from another planet might make of our food, houses, and CATS. This pair of storybook aliens have hilarious ways of describing things they see, such as referring to teeth as “mouth stones.” And curtains are “starblock fabrics.” 😂 Our planet would certainly be interesting to aliens, but cats might prove most entertaining of all! The artist used Procreate to create the digital illustrations for this book.
What Will You Be?
Yamile Saied Méndez
Kate Alizadeh, illustrator
May 4, 2021
A young child is asking Abuela what she thinks she’ll be when she grows up. The story is a magnificent exploration of all the possibilities, but ultimately the child realizes she’ll be content because she’ll be herself. ❤️ The artwork in this picture book is quite lovely. The artist used scanned in pencil line, scanned in textures and Photoshop to create the digital illustrations for this book.
If you’re familiar with Dear Boy and Dear Girl, this book is in the same vein. Only this time it’s a celebration of the teachers in our children’s lives. It’s ultimately a thank you letter, celebrating all the meaningful ways our teachers impact children. The book is set up to be a gift, even beginning with the front page which has blanks to fill in for who is receiving the book. And it’s worth noting that the final two page spreads have graduation hats. The artist used digital media to create the illustrations for this book.
This somber picture book is a bit open-ended and will provide loads to question and talk about with children about sadness and/or depression. We know Arthur’s mother went to the hospital, but nothing more. It’s mostly cloudy and stormy outside, which adds to the feelings. And Arthur really wants some bright and colorful balloons. But once he gets them, he realizes he doesn’t want them for himself. In the end, it speaks loudly about empathy and love. The Author’s Note in the back discusses children’s ability to feel deeply, even when they’re quite little. “Sometimes a simple gesture or words from a child allow a parent to find their smile through the clouds and rain.” The book does not share how the artwork was done, but I’ll share one page spread as an example of what to expect:
May 11, 2021
This is a beautifully complex picture book that will have children making guesses and sharing their speculation. I admit that as soon as I finished this one, I immediately flipped back to the beginning to start it all over. A mouse builds a welcoming house, but first she must detect exactly where everything must go. She uses her senses to notice where should be. Is the mouse simply imagining what it will be like before he builds the house? Or is there some space-time continuum that allows the mouse to feel where the future house is? Who knows! Lots to talk about with a deep thinking group. The art consists of digitally combined collages of painted and cut paper.
Currently Reading/To Be Read:
I am still working away at my #MustReadin2021 list, so next up is The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen.